Moveable Alphabet Activities

Moveable Alphabet Activities

In the Montessori method, the moveable alphabet is a mainstay. A moveable alphabet is simply a set of letter manipulatives that enable children to arrange letters to form letter strings or words. Letter manipulatives give children a way to interact with the alphabet through hands-on play. They allow for a child who is not able to write yet, to experiment with putting together letters to make words.

Letter Manipulatives are also important for children who are beginning to read and write. This is why I have integrated the use of letter tiles in the Simply Reading program. I have borrowed this concept from the Montessori method, quite simply because I have found, through personal experience in our own homeschool, that using a moveable alphabet is very effective.  The following are some Ideas for activities using a moveable alphabet.

Build Words

This is probably the most obvious suggestion. Encourage your child to try to make any words they choose, and then have them read their words back to you. You may also want to suggest words for your child to build. For example, you could ask your child to make a word, then guide them through thinking about what sounds are in the beginning, middle, and end of the word.

Object Box

Have a box of objects or a collection of pictures with three letter names. Your child can then pick from the box and build the words with the moveable alphabet.

Word Chains

Word chains consist of strings of words that can be built by changing one letter in the previous word to make a new word. An example would be something like this: bog>big>bag>bad>dad>mad>mat>bat>cat. You would have your child build the first word, then say something like, “Can you change ‘bog’ to ‘big’?” and so forth.

Letter Matching

Have your child match the letter manipulatives to letters written or printed on paper. You could also have them match upper-case and lower-case letters.


Have younger children copy words or sentences from familiar stories. You can then read the words that they have built back to them.

Letter Games

You and your child pick six letters at random, then take turns trying to make a word. When you finish your word, draw new letters to replace the ones you used. For a challenge, you can make words crossword style (like in the game Scrabble).

Missing Letters

Make part of a word and have your child finish the word. For example, you could put together the letters “an” and your child could choose letters to make words such as “fan” “man” “pan” etc.

Name Game

Children love to make names, especially their own. Encourage your child to build their own name and names of family and friends.

These are just a few of the possibilities for using moveable alphabet manipulatives. If you would like to learn more about my affordable, hands-on, learn-to-read program that utilizes many of these methods, you can read about it here.